Hey Photoshop User!

Warning: All text and no pictures!

**Update! since this is becoming the ad hoc place to talk about Adobe, make sure to check out Matt’s post about what it means for NAPP**

I hope that you have noticed over the past year or so that we have really tried to increase the amount of tutorials and other Photoshop goodness on the site. With full length classes, better shinier portfolios and lots of super NAPP goodness. With the increase in content on the site there is more opportunity for interactions and questions. Every post that goes up on the site has a section for comments and in that section we get a lot of questions. Since I oversee the day to day running of the NAPP site and I get to see most of the activity on the site, I thought I would pull back the curtain and let you see a bit of how things go around here and help you to understand how to work the system. My goal is for you to have the best experience you can here, and one of the ways I can do that is to help you have the proper expectations about how to be heard. We want you to feel as though you are an integral member of this site, for indeed you are. One of the quickest ways you can feel as though you are not important is by not having your questions answered. I never want that to happen, so I want to share the best ways to communicate.

Here at NAPP we have over 70,000 members which is great. Even if a small percentage of you folks have a question today, it makes for a lot of questions. We try to keep track of every question as it comes in, but with all the questions we get on a daily basis some can fall through the cracks, especially depending on where the questions are posted. One of the main areas that we receive the bulk of our questions is in the comment section of each post. The reason this section is called comments instead of Q/A is because it is for comments… now I am not trying to be sarcastic or mean-spirited, but by nature this implies a potential for two way communication with the author, but does not guarantee it. If I leave a comment on another website, I hope it will be responded to, but I do not assume that it will. If I need an answer, I seek out other avenues on the site in order to receive an answer rather than waiting for someone to see my comment and respond. We have hundreds if not thousands of tutorials and posts on the site going back years, and we get questions from things that were done back in ’07 and ’08 on a daily basis… and we try to answer them all, but the comments section was never meant to be the main place to ask your technical questions and be assured that the instructor would come back to that post and answer you.

This is why the Help Desk was established. The goal of the Help Desk is to answer every question within 24hrs, with most being answered within just a couple of hours. On rare occasions due to random circumstances it may take just a bit longer than 24hrs. But, this is where you will be assured of getting an answer. As much as we try to stay current in the posts and comments… there is no guarantee that the instructor will see and respond to your question. We realize that we are teaching technical subjects and by nature that brings up technical questions and more than likely the instructor can probably answer that question easily. However, you will need to know that as overseer of the site, one of the filters I try to use before asking an instructor to take time to answer a specific question is… “Can this question be answered just as easily on Google?” That is not to downplay our role in personally interacting with each and every one of our members… but often the questions we get asked are a Google search away and not necessarily NAPP specific. So I have to try to balance the time allocation between having an instructor work on new content or take time to answer a technical question. If I know the answer or I have the time to do a Google search for the answer, I will try to field the question, or hopefully another member will chime in and help. If it is a specific question that the instructor needs to answer, then I will try to remind that instructor to join in on the comments… but there is not a specific scenario that say that an instructor must go back and check the comments from every tutorial they have done on a daily basis. It is just not practical.

The good news is that our members are some of the smartest in the world (Ok, I laid that on a little thick didn’t I? :D) We are a community and as such are great resources for each other. What I would do if I had a question that I didn’t want to bother Help Desk with, and I couldn’t Google the answer, is that I would pose the question in the comments section addressed to the whole membership and not just the instructor. I know that for me personally, I am hesitant to answer a question directed specifically to another person, even if I have the answer, but if the question was a general one to anyone reading the comment, then I would feel good about throwing in my two cents if I thought it would help. This helps promote community and helps each of us feel like we have something to offer. It will also help our member feel comfortable enough to say in a NICE way… “hey, why don’t you Google that question?” Let’s face it, we all sometime get question tunnel vision…”I got this question while watching this video… therefore the only avenue to find the answer is on this post.” We forget momentarily this wonderful thing called a search engine. My wife accuses me of having question stubbornness… in my head I am saying “I don’t care if the answer is somewhere else… I must find it here… no matter how long it takes. :D”

Now I know that there are going to be specific questions related to a specific post that the instructor is going to be the best person to answer the question. So here is what I would suggest… leave the question in the post as usual, and then send a direct message to the author of the post and reference that question so they will at least have a heads up. You will probably have to send a friend request to that person first in order to direct message… but hopefully all of our instructors are friendly. :D Then have the expectation that it may take a little bit of time, and you may have to give them a gentle reminder to pop back into that post.

I can’t give you a specific turn around time on when questions in the comments will be answered because so many factors come into play. Is that person in the office or at a conference? What is that person working on at the moment that may have him/her not going back and checking old posts to see if there are questions. Bottom line, we try to answer as quickly as possible and in a perfect system we would be able to respond daily. I am usually checking this site daily during the week and can head off any problems, but sometimes I miss things or the person that needs to answer is covered up with several other things so that they are not able to jump in quickly. Feel free to shoot me a direct message and let me know you are needing a question answered and I will try to answer it or pass it on down the right channel.

Finally, I would also encourage you to make sure to post a follow up to your question letting folks know that you have gotten the answer you need or need further clarification… because sometimes we may think that a question was answered and we will mistakenly move on to the next question… leaving you feeling unappreciated, and that is never the goal.

So I hope that helps you understand the best way to get a question answered and what to expect. Having the right expectations will help each of us avoid getting frustrated and feeling like we are misunderstood. I truly believe each one of us is here to learn and it is hard to learn when you feel slighted. Thanks for taking the time to read all the way through. I would have quit by the second paragraph. :D

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